Thursday, March 18, 2010

Psalm 104--Foundations

As I was reading this Psalm, the sense of God's overarching power to direct everything and care for everything came through loud and clear. in this section of scripture, God is referred to by the tetragammaton, YHWH. Since the Jewish people considered this name too holy to be spoken, they would call him Adonai (Lord) instead. The foundation in the image is the Aramaic spelling of YHWH and the foundation pillars contain the letterforms from Adonai. I will simply quote the passage in the psalm where this image is pulled from.
He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
at the sound of your thunder they took flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
they went down into the valleys,
to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
never again will they cover the earth. (Psalm 104:5-9, NIV)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Psalm 70: Deliver Me

Some of you have heard this background, but some have not, so I'll give it again:

In December of 1999, my mother was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. She was given only a 25% chance of living for 5 years. She beat those odds and after her treatments actually went into remission for about 5 years. We were told at the time of initial diagnosis, though, that if it ever came back it would probably progress so rapidly that there would be nothing that could be done medically. So, when it did come back, we were devastated. Thankfully, in 5 years' time cancer treatment had developed to the point that the doctors were able to treat the cancer, but for several days we did not know this.

About that time, I had been reading in the Psalms. During the night, a portion of Psalm 70 was going through my head constantly -- "O my God, deliver me. O my God, deliver me. O my God, deliver me. O my Lord do not delay." It was one of those nights where I was constantly shifting from a waking state to sleep, but the phrase followed me where ever I was. It started as a plea of desperation but as the night progressed it gradually developed into a victory chant.

That continual chant is the basis of "Deliver Me". It never leaves (sorry, basses) just as the phrase would never leave my mind. Other thoughts came in and mingled with it -- sometimes very confused thoughts. But by the end "O my God, deliver me" is not a plea so much as a declaration of assurance of our deliverance.

Recording note:
This is the first attempt at recording this version with words. I could only get one male singer, so the tenor line had to be supplied by an alto friend of mine, and it's in a difficult part of her range to project. We practiced for about an hour then recorded it. There are a couple of "cringe-worthy" moments, but I was so grateful to be able to hear all the parts at once with the lyrics.

The song is designed to be sung by a larger group, so the balance of voices and interpretation are not what I would envision in a finished product. It does make it difficult to understand some of the words, so I put the recording in a slide show so that the lyrics could be read while listening.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Psalm 75: A Directed Prayer

As I was reading different psalms from Book 3 of the Psalms, I was noticing how many of the psalms are prayers. I also noticed how focused the prayers are to God. After almost 50 years of life, I still struggle with focus in my prayer life, so I thought this week that I would create a directed prayer based on Psalm 75. This video is an sample of the Keynote file. Sometimes active praying included my adding my own thoughts and other times, just sitting there and reflecting on what was said on the slide was more than an adequate prayer posture. Since prayer is communion with God, we don't have to talk all the time. I can remember how frustrating it was when our kids were younger and and talked "at us", with no opening for us to respond. Some of the best times are just sitting and being with each other–but being fully present all the while.

Those thoughts are part of what lies behind this piece.